The Japanese Tea Ceremony
Japanese Tea Ceremony
Like most Asian countries, Japan is known for its tea traditions that include elaborate ceremonies that revolve around the drinking of the green tea. It is not only a part of the Japanese culture but this tea drinking ceremony is considered as an art form that has been performed by many people for hundreds of years. Someone who wants to officiate and participate in the japanese tea ceremony usually has to train and perfect the craft for a number of years.
Green tea is known for its many health benefits. In fact, we can buy green tea online these days. There are also a lot of green tea products being mass produced in the market today. However, what most people are not aware of is that Japanese green tea is the most popular kind of tea. If the westerners are known for ceremoniously having brewed coffee for breakfast, then Matcha green tea is the most traditionally used green tea in Japanese tea ceremonies.
For over 5 centuries, the Japanese tea ceremony has evolved as a “transformative practice.” This means that it has developed its own aesthetic and that the ceremony alone can represent our spiritual and inner experiences. The custom of tea drinking was first introduced for medicinal purposes in Japan. As time goes by, more and more Japanese have grown to love green tea for pleasure’s sake.
As the 12th century came to an end, tea preparation was known as “tencha” wherein the tea, , was placed into a bowl after which warm water will also be poured onto the same bowl and these will be whipped together. This was introduced by Eisai, a Japanese monk who just returned from China. When he returned to Japan, this monk brought back tea seeds with him and later on proceeded to produce some of the best quality tea in Japan.
The Japanese Tea Ceremony – ‘A spiritual tradition’
The Tea drinking ceremony was also known as a spiritual tradition in Japan. Around the 15th century, Murata Juko, highly known in chanoyu history, developed the for the purpose of spiritual practice. Later on, tea drinking ceremonies spread across all levels of society and a lot of the Japanese have imbibed this Japanese traditions which have been passed on to the next generations.
The traditional Japanese tea ceremony entails the use of specific tea equipment which they call chadogu. These materials are ceremoniously cleaned before and after each ceremony and can be handled only by gloved hands. One of the essential things needed in every ceremony is the “chakin” which is basically a little rectangular white hemp cloth or linen that is used to wipe the tea bowl.
You will also need thin tea bowls which you will normally see at a Japanese tea store. Another piece of equipment that you need for the ceremony is the natsume or the tea caddy which contains the matcha tea powder. The Japanese also make use of tea scoops which is generally made of bamboo and tea whisk to mix the green tea and warm water together.
The Japanese tea ceremony has its own set of rules. One of the most important rule is at the beginning of the ceremony where the guest is asked to wait outside the garden to make sure that the person is calm and ready before the ceremony. Upon entering, you will follow the tea master to the room where the ceremony will be held. You will then sit in a kneeling position that is known as “seiza”.
After you have taken your place and everyone at the table has settled, the tea master will begin brewing the green tea. The tea must be prepared under the right conditions which means using the specific utensils, the right tea and with just the right temperature of water. The tea master will then use the bamboo whisk to mix the matcha tea powder and water together.
Receiving and drinking the tea as a participant in this ceremony may take some getting used to. First, you will have to reach for the bowl with your left hand when the tea master hands it over to you. You will then hold the bowl with your right hand. After that, gently place the bowl on the table right in front of you then turn it to the right. It is essential that you don’t drink from the direction where the bowl was handed to you. After finishing the tea, turn it to the left. This movement shows respect for the host and the tea master.